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Letter: Not everyone shares the same privilege

Published on July 17, 2017

In our society, everyone has a view on what being privileged means. It may mean for some that you come from a family with money, one who runs a family business, or even perhaps a family where everyone has a cellphone.

Whatever your view is, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. If you’re like me — a white straight male — no what matter your personal or family situation is, you’re privileged.

To be able to think like this, you need to realize all the ways that other people are being disadvantaged, no matter what their personal or family situation. Ingrained in all of us are prejudices that we may or may not be aware of. When I walk into a room, I do not have to prove who I am to others. It’s assumed who I am. I don’t have to prove that I’m straight or male or white. These are the privileges that I walk around with daily.

For others, this is their daily nightmare, proving to others who they are. A gay person who comes out to their friends — as if having to “come out” isn’t bad enough — is expected to prove that they are gay, as if it is their responsibility to convince their friends of who they are as a person.

A person named Jordan walks into a job interview, and surprises the interviewer who was expecting a male when instead a female enters the room. The interviewer now expects Jordan to prove that they’re actually Jordan and that they are here to be interviewed, all the while Jordan has to try to convince the interviewer that she can do just as good a job or better than the male Jordan who was “expected” to come.

A male who identifies as female tries to enter the female bathroom — the one they identify with and feel comfortable using — and catches darting glances from those watching them enter the bathroom. This person now feels they owe the world an explanation as to why they are entering this bathroom. The feeling that she must prove she is who she is can’t help but cross her mind.

If you can relate to any of these situations, chances are you are being disadvantaged based who you are as a person and you might not even realize it. We, as a society, need to realize that we are all in this together. We can either work together and make this planet great for all, or continue the status quo and keep living in a world where people are discriminated based on their true selves.

Patrick Butt
Mount Pearl